Thursday, April 03, 2008

Our mayor in action!

I have to mention: the mayor just announced that he's going to Do Something about the problem of panhandlers downtown. Go Mayor Ballard!

First, I need to point out that he's not talking about doing anything for the homeless population; his only concern is the scruffy gentlemen shaking cups at passersby. As long as the homeless are somewhere that downtown visitors and residents aren't actually inconvenienced by (or made aware of) them, he's unconcerned. Second, I noticed that one prong of his three-pronged plan is to actually start enforcing the panhandling laws enacted by the last mayor. Maybe this is the advantage of having the police under the mayor's control: they'll actually [selectively] enforce the laws [he wants them to enforce], for a change. My favorite quote: a police spokesman said that they never really enforced the panhandling ordinance before, essentially because they didn't have a specific anti-panhandling task force.

Another prong: require the cup-shakers to buy some kind of expensive license or permit from the city. I think this is the same as making unlicensed cup-shaking a crime, thus giving the police another excuse to arrest or harass them. But for me, the real kicker is the main prong of his initiative: a public awareness campaign to get people to stop giving them money (ideally, donating to a charity instead). This is brilliant! His press release made it sound complicated, but I think it's the same advice you get about stray cats: stop feeding them, and they'll go away! I suspect he's picturing a scruffy homeless guy staring down at his empty cup o' change, suddenly being inspired to clean up and get a real job so he can afford to enter rehab and stop drinking Mad Dog. It's a totally brilliant strategy -- a pure strategy, unsullied by contact with sociology or psychology or a basic understanding of human nature! I'm sure it'll work miraculously, with the number of panhandlers on the street decreasing in exact proportion to the increase in the number of panhandlers in jail!

In passing, I'll note that I might have a new temporary favorite word: prong! Prong prong prong prong prong!

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